New text: The Last Frontiers of Ecopedagogy Before Us
Very pleased to have a chapter in the new book wonderfully edited by Petar Jandrić and Derek R. Ford (Eds.) entitled Postdigital Ecopedagogies: Genealogies, Contradictions, and Possible Futures
About this book
This book conceptualizes ecopedagogies as forms of educational innovation and critique that emerge from, negotiate, debate, produce, resist, and/or overcome the shifting and expansive postdigital ecosystems of humans, machines, nonhuman animals, objects, stuff, and other forms of matter. Contemporary postdigital ecosystems are determined by a range of new bioinformational reconfigurations in areas including capitalism, imperialism, settler-colonialism, and ontological hierarchies more generally. Postdigital ecopedagogies name a condition, a question, and a call for experimentation to link pedagogical research and practice to challenges of our moment. They pose living, breathing, expanding, contracting, fluid, and spatial conditions and questions of our non-chronological present. This book presents analyses of that present from a wide spectrum of disciplines, including but not limited to education studies, philosophy, politics, sociology, arts, and architecture.
My chapter (Paul R. Carr)
Insurrectional and Pandoran Democracy, Military Perversion and The Quest for Environmental Peace: The Last Frontiers of Ecopedagogy Before Us
This chapter explores the intersection between (insurrectional and Pandoran) democracy, the postdigital context, (pervasive) militarization and ecopedagogy. Can we achieve meaningful ecopedagogy within dysfunctional forms of anti-democratic democracy? Is the appetite to build and use killing machines the consequence or the instigator of thin, docile, neutered democracy? What will it take to achieve broad-based engagement with/for the environment, which can counter and over-ride nebulous, supposedly democratic systems that are reluctant to act? While many people around the world are preoccupied with the environment, including in education, social movements, solidarity groups, animal rights groups and others, why are national and international institutions still seemingly lagging behind? These questions underpin a critical analysis of where ecopedagogy might be headed within the postdigital context.
democracy, insurrection, Pandora Papers, militarization, ecopedagogy, peace, postdigital
From the Introduction to this chapter:
The global Covid-19 pandemic has further exposed and exacerbated the fragile underlying conditions of societies that claim to be democratic (Acheson 2020; Giroux and Filippakou 2021). In many cases, the patient is literally on life-support. Social inequalities are either on the rise or are now being more transparently laid bare to expose the illnesses that never vanished (Bambra et al. 2020; Canadian Human Rights Commission 2020; EuroHealthNet 2020). The problems were always there but the pandemic has made it painfully clear that excessive wealth concentration is a highly-controlled business, with a handful of enterprises/individuals ‘earning’, if that is the word for it, untold fortunes while the masses are literally scrambling to get ‘bail-outs’, ‘buy-outs’, ‘assistance-packages’, ‘rent-deferments’ and other forms of assistance to try and make it through the crisis (BBC News 2020; Edelberg and Sheiner 2021; Ernst 2020).
The Pandora Papers, like the Panama Papers, remind us that the ultra-rich play by a different set of rules, and they are not really interested in contributing to the societies they wish to control. The Pandora Papers, which were researched and reported on by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in 2021, involves a range of articles, analysis, reports and ongoing exposés into how the wealthy and powerful use off-shore banking in order to avoid taxation and regulation within their home-countries (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists 2021a). In 2016, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (2021b) first reported on the same practice in a ground-breaking study, which was known as the Panama Papers because of the centrality of law offices in Panama that orchestrated the legal and illegal transactions that confirmed what many people already knew. The two sets of Papers, together, explicitly reveal the hypocrisy of some political leaders, business elites and cultural figures as well as the economic avarice and criminal activity of many others, who sought to conceal funds and also ensure that appropriate and legal taxation is not effectuated.
Concurrently, the 6 January 2021 insurrection in Washington underscores the deeply divided, anti-democratic and hyper-racialized sense of normative democracy, notably in the United States but also elsewhere as well (Nevius 2021). I use the term ‘insurrection’ here knowing that there are many interpretations and perspectives on what took place that day in the US capital. Some may argue that the intention was not to seize state power but only to contest the election results, and others may lean more toward this being another move toward a fascist descent, among other possible constructions. Debate about the level of organization, the motivations, conspiratorial linkages, resources, communications and networking employed is ongoing. I believe that it is particularly germane for the following reasons: 1) that it took place in the first place; 2) in Washington, within the heart of a country that intensely admonished others for lesser actions; 3) the massive level of support during and after; 4) the militarized framing of the event; 5) the racialized fiber of the mobilization; 6) the more than symbolic meaning of attacking the supposed center of US democracy and hegemony.
Rockhill (2021) documents organized fascist maneuvers in the 1930s in the US
in an attempt to seize power, which also alludes to the intersection between business,
military, hegemony and nationalist interests. Rockhill cautions drawing a direct line between the 2021 event with the 1934 ‘Business Plot’ but it is important to underscore that there is a history here worth studying and understanding. This delusionary normative democracy involves acceptance of the unrelenting and unrepentant fomenting of militarized planning and activity, accompanied by the arms carnival, which sustains hegemonic visions despite the numerous contestations, foibles, weaknesses and injustices that flow from it (Stancil 2020; Stockholm International Peace Research Institute 2020). Within this context, dreaming of ‘returning to normal’ is more like a nightmare.
So what’s it all about? A significant part of the equation of maintaining and cultivating hegemonic compliance of the population centers around the fantasy of democracy (Carr 2020a, b; Carr and Thésée 2021). With so much bellicose, uncontested, partisan drudgery about how we have developed the highest form of social (and democratic) organization (Carr 2020a , b ), it may be time to consider that we’re now in a phase of, what I would characterize as, insurrectional and Pandoran democracy. That’s a mouth-full but it does provide some cultural signposts to potentially guide us. I do not claim to have fully theorized the concepts but this iteration builds on a robust and engaging critic of normative democracy over the course of the past two decades. Critiquing (normative) democracy is not new but I am hopeful that the analysis herein that connects with the social media and postdigital context will add to the debate.
At the same time, and of central importance, not only to this chapter, to the meaning of democracy is the potential to continue human life in a dignified, meaningful way. This may sound trite and hyperbolic but I believe that there is no longer any time to waste in considering what we—people around the world—must do to sustain life and, significantly, the environment. To say that we are in a crisis and that an environmental catastrophe is before us is stating what should be obvious to most people. How we function, considering the postdigital context (Jandrić et al. 2018) of new forms of knowing, sharing, communicating and engagement, all the while being submerged in twentieth century technologies, visions, norms and educational values, is a fundamental question, one that leads to the interest in ecopedagogy (Dean 2008; Jandrić and Ford 2020).
This chapter, thus, explores the intersection between (insurrectional and Pandoran) democracy, the postdigital context, (pervasive) militarization and ecopedagogy. Can we achieve meaningful ecopedagogy within dysfunctional forms of anti-democratic democracy (West 2005)? Jandrić and Ford (2020) elaborate a framework to enmesh the postdigital context with the potentiality of ecopedagogy, highlighting the potential for critical pedagogy to assist in building movements aimed at significant transformative change in education and in society. Is the appetite to build and use killing machines the consequence or the instigator of thin, docile, neutered democracy? What will it take to achieve broad-based engagement with/for the environment, which can counter and over-ride nebulous, supposedly democratic systems that are reluctant to act? While many people around the world are preoccupied with the environment, including in education, social movements, solidarity groups, animal rights groups and others, why are national and international institutions still seemingly lagging behind? These questions underpin a critical analysis of where ecopedagogy might be headed within the postdigital context.